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Consortium loses multi-billion pound Sellafield clean-up contract

12 January 2015

The UK government has stripped private consortium Nuclear Management Partners (NMP) of a £9bn contract to clean up the nuclear waste site at the Sellafield site in Cumbria. NMP, a consortium comprising US engineering group URS, British firm AMEC and French energy firm AREVA, has run the site for more than six years, and was granted a five-year extension in 2013.

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The move follows recommendations from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) to change the way the site was managed. The Public Accounts Committee and the National Audit Office have both accused NMP of cost overruns and delays.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said Sellafield Ltd would now become a subsidiary of the NDA.

He said Sellafield "will continue to be led by a world class team, who will be appointed and governed by a newly-constituted board of the site licence company".

"The new model will, in due course, see a strategic partner appointed by Sellafield Ltd, to strengthen the programme management and commercial capability at the site, as well as playing a key role in managing capital projects and contracts," he added.

"This approach is recognised as best practice in other major projects, such as Crossrail and the Olympics." Davey said transition to the new arrangements would take 15 months.

Despite criticism of the way the site was managed, NMP's contract was extended for a further five years in 2013. It was originally granted the decommissioning job in 2008, and employs 10,000 workers on the site.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), which awarded the contract, last year increased its estimate for cleaning up the UK's nuclear sites by 7% to £110bn over the next 120 years, with Sellafield accounting for the vast bulk of that.

But NMP general manager Iain Irving said since the contract was extended in 2013 "the site has enjoyed one of its best ever periods of performance and progress".

"Importantly, over the last two years, we have consecutively achieved the site's best overall safety records," he added.


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